Click to viewBoeing has successfully completed tests for the engine that will power HALE, the extreme endurance plane that will be able to fly for seven days non-stop in the stratosphere. The wunderengine—developed by the Ford Motor Company—went for three days under the simulated conditions of a 65,000-feet flight, which is definitely better than a Taurus and apparently exceeded their expectations on fuel economy. We talked with Chris Haddox at Boeing's Advanced Systems to ask him about its future.
Chris told us that while it may be "several years before HALE flies" the key to this aircraft is the propulsion system and this recent test was very promising. However, even while the hydrogen engines look like a good option for reducing carbon emissions, don't expect this technology to hit a Dreamliner anytime soon:
It's primary purpose is communications for military or commercial purposes. Since it will be able to stay aloft for seven plus days, it would also be used for persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance purposes.
In addition to hydrogen populsion, the HALE also breaks new ground in thermal management, necessary to fly at those altitudes. And despite its light appearance, the aircraft will be able to carry a 2,000-pound multi-sensor payload, plus a custom fender, flame stickers for an extra speed punch and/or synthetic leather finish. [Boeing]